Saturday, February 11, 2012

When is Something Racist? When the Left Says it is

In a short piece in the “Culture Monster” section of the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Knight decries a satirical depiction of the First Lady based on a 1775 portrait of famed French lover of luxury, Marie Antoinette. The image replaces Marie’s face with Mrs. Obama's, and the young queen’s puffy-sleeved left arm with a bare muscular black arm – clearly a poke at Mrs. Obama’s penchant for going sleeveless to show off her buffed guns. Her right hand points to a spot on a world globe, and the image caption reads “Choosing the next vacation.”

Obviously a pointed commentary on Michelle Obama’s high-end wardrobe and frequent lavish getaways such as a glitzy Spanish jaunt and her family’s recent $4 million, 17-day trip to Hawaii, right? If you think so, then you’re not getting the pic’s overt racism, according to Christopher Knight, and you’re probably racist yourself for laughing at it, according to the left.
In his article entitled “Racist image of Michelle Obama based on Versailles painting,” Knight begins by claiming that the image is “baldly racist,” though he doesn’t explain how except to state that “the caricature of Obama as a profligate queen relies on the racist stereotype of an ‘uppity Negro.’”
Wrong. The caricature of Mrs. Obama as a profligate queen relies entirely on her documented behavior as one. Knight doesn’t address this issue at all, and he utterly ignores the image’s caption and its obvious accusation of the Obamas’ hypocrisy in wanting to impose income redistribution upon the rest of us while luxuriating in the champagne wishes and caviar dreams of their lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Instead of elaborating on and providing evidence for his charge of racism, Wright adds four paragraphs (45% of the article) about the painter of Marie’s portrait and an artistic process that
laid the groundwork for the later development in France of mass-produced chromolithographs – color images that arguably represent the dawn of modern mass-media. Photography soon followed.
He tries to make this historical aside relevant by drawing this tenuous connection to the satirical Obama image:
Like the Internet today, color printing spread visual knowledge far and wide. But there was a steep downside: It also created an avenue for the broad dissemination of propaganda – some of it disgusting.

The image appeared on the right-wing blog site Gateway Pundit, accompanying an article which had nothing to do with Ms. Obama’s race. It was about the First Lady's guest appearance on an upcoming episode of the Nickelodeon sitcom iCarly. In the show, to a cast member who mistakenly addresses her as “your excellency,” Obama responds, “I kinda like it.”
Yes, the line was scripted for her and intended to be a light joke. And yet how ironically appropriate. This was Gateway Pundit’s point in posting the pic of Obama as Marie “Let them eat cake” Antoinette.
Knight mentions that a Media Matters article called out Gateway Pundit for the “slur” against Mrs. Obama – except that not even the Media Matters piece mentions anything about racism. Apparently the leftist media need to coordinate better on their agenda.
When is something racist? When – and only when – the left says it is. The left sees everything outside itself through a racist prism, and yet is completely blind to its own racism and obsession with race.
The charge that conservatives are racist by definition and without exception has long been a demonizing strategy of the left, a weapon with which to shut down reasoned debate and divert attention from the racism of the left’s own policies and proponents. This strategy has intensified, of course, now that the left has a black President in office (although, inconveniently for them, he is only half-black, which theoretically should make the right only half-racist, or perhaps racist only half the time; it’s not quite clear how that works). Anything the left disagrees with is racism, and anything it agrees with cannot possibly be racist. Therefore the Tea Party is racist, though there is zero evidence for that, but the Occupy movement is not racist, despite its lily-white racial makeup.
Just as all legitimate criticism of Islam today is shouted down by the left as Islamophobia, so must all legitimate criticism of the black Obamas – or of any prominent black figure – be dismissed as racism. Think that Lowe’s home improvement store has the right not to sink its advertising dollars into a TV show about Muslims which no one is watching? Then you’re Islamophobic. Think that the anti-American rants of Obama’s spiritual mentor Rev. Wright are repulsive? You’re racist. Think that Obama’s former green czar Van Jones is a radical Communist opportunist? You’re racist. Think that Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to prosecute Black Panthers for voter intimidation is racist? You’re racist. Think that President Obama’s embrace of the Islamists who openly seek our destruction is dangerous? You’re racist and Islamophobic.
The L.A. Times’ Christopher Knight is correct about two things: one, the internet can indeed be “an avenue for the broad dissemination of propaganda.” That propaganda often takes the form of relentless false accusations of racism against conservatives and finds its way into such leftist mouthpieces as the Los Angeles Times. And two, such propaganda is indeed disgusting.

(This article originally appeared on FrontPage Mag here, 1/10/2012)